February 19, 2018
Clonmel, 18 th February, 2018- An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s spin machine, “The Strategic Communications Unit”, funded by taxpayers, choreographed the launch of the National Planning Framework: Project Ireland 2040 on Friday. A more realistic title would read, “National Planning Framework: Pie-in- the-Sky- 2040”. Despite the hype and the fan-fare, the Fine Gael plan has almost entirely snubbed County Tipperary. Like Fianna Fáil’s National Spatial Strategy before it, no Tipperary town is earmarked as a growth centre or prioritised for investment or job creation.
Instead, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Athlone, Letterkenny, Drogheda and Dundalk are the urban areas favoured for future growth.
This means these towns and cities will have key strategic and economic advantages over all towns in County Tipperary.
Put another way, Tipperary towns will be systematically discriminated against.
In effect, Limerick, Cork and Waterford in particular will suck the lifeblood, the investment, the growth and the jobs from Tipperary.
Motorway status for the N24 Roadway has also been ignored for the umpteenth time. The N24 is a key economic and social driver for the South of the County but it is also sub-standard and is dangerous in many areas.
Tipperary town will continue to be choked by thousands of vehicles including heavy goods vehicles driving through its main street. There will be no by-pass either for Carrick-on- Suir.
The Fine Gael/Independent Alliance government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has made a deliberate political choice to discriminate against Tipperary.
The plan in reality re-announces 179 projects and €40 billion expenditure, with the rest fuzzy, un-costed and with little or no time-line.
Expenditure of €116 billion is used to give the impression of a significant increase in spending but when population growth and use of Gross National Income instead of Gross Domestic Product are taken into account, the investment proposed is modest at best, rising from 2.9% in 2018 to 4.1% in 2027, still below the European average.
The much-hyped Climate and Energy section of the plan will, by the Taoiseach’s own admission, miss the EU Climate and Energy agreed targets by a whopping 60%. He also raised the prospect of new taxes in this area.
And the plan’s promises on housing are frankly, incredible, given the governments appalling record to date. Fine Gael has presided over an unprecedented Housing and Homelessness crisis, with sky-high rents, continued repossessions and home ownership being out of the reach of ordinary families.
The Government are fooling no-one with this plan.
I will be raising these issues strongly on the floor of the Dáil during the week and demanding the inclusion of growths centres in Co. Tipperary and the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status.
Deputy Seamus Healy
February 14, 2018
I welcome the motion, which I will support. I will also support the Sinn Féin amendment. It is fine for Deputies living in Dublin and other major cities but if they had to drive around rural constituencies every week, as rural Deputies must, they would find that local and regional roads are in an atrocious condition. It is barely possible to drive on many of them and the rural bus service about which Deputy Eamon Ryan spoke cannot operate on some of them because they are so bad. From Carrick-on-Suir to Gortnahoe and Littleton, from Ballingarry to Hollyford and Upperchurch and from Clogheen to Lower Ormond, the roads are in a disgraceful condition. As a former Ceann Comhairle and Tipperary man, the Deputy Séan Treacy, once said, one could bury one of Burke’s pigs in the potholes in Tipperary. One could now bury a lorry load of Burke’s pigs in the potholes of the county’s local and regional roads. The position is so bad the chief executive officer of Tipperary County Council, Mr. Joe McGrath, wrote to Deputies about two weeks ago stating the following:
[I]t is acknowledged that there has been an accelerating deterioration in regional and local roads which is directly attributable to the deficit in investment on these roads over successive years during the economic downturn. the investment deficit on roads (ie the amount of spend necessary to restore these roads to an acceptable standard and within an acceptable timeframe) in Tipperary is estimated at €180 million.
Mr. McGrath was referring to regional and local roads as opposed to motorways. The condition of these roads is exacerbated by repeated incidence of flooding and extreme weather events. Mr. McGrath also noted that for comparison purposes, “the total national allocation of €416.8 million for 2018 is still only about tow thirds of the Non National roads Allocation in 2008”. We have a serious problem with local and regional roads.
We should remember that these are the roads on which people living locally go to work and school, do their business, farm, shop and go to sports fixtures or religious events. They use them in normal daily living and in very many cases their cars are being damaged, with people hardly able to drive on some of the roads because they are so bad. We need an emergency allocation of funding for these roads immediately. We need the Minister and his Government to honour the commitment made in the programme for Government to increase funding for these roads by 50%.
In the minute or so left to me, I want to refer to the N24. As the Minister knows very well, the N24 is a social and economic lifeline for the south east, including Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford city and county. It is not fit for purpose and despite its importance, the N24 suffers from slow journey times and is substandard in its design and alignment. It is congested where it is routed through a number of towns and villages, including Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. The vitality and growth of those towns and villages on that route is also dependent on the removal of heavy traffic from them. For example, thousands of vehicles, including huge lorries, are going straight through the main street in Tipperary town on a daily basis. They are destroying businesses, roads and the town. We have been seeking a bypass of the town for over 20 years and it is now time to deliver on it. We certainly hope it will be in the capital programme to be announced next Friday. The N24 is substandard but it is vital to the south-east area. A bypass is also needed for Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.
We need an emergency allocation for the local and regional roads and we want the 50% increase that was promised delivered immediately. When the chief executive of the local authority wrote to us, he said he had written to the Minister, Deputy Ross, seeking agreement to meet to outline the accelerated deterioration in parts of the road network, with particular emphasis on non-national roads.
I ask the Minister to accede to the request to meet a deputation from Tipperary.